Tillandsia Web, Dade Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society

Online Newsletter

Excerpted from our print newsletter. See the printed newsletter for detailed Field Trip directions and reports, for phone and addresses for yard visits and additional articles. Join now to obtain the benefits of full membership!

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In This Issue



Tuesday, January 28, 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road.

"The Plant Life of Biscayne National Park" -- Keith A. Bradley, Research Biologist, The Institute for Regional Conservation.

Keith will talk about ongoing research the IRC is conducting in Biscayne National Park, doing a quantitative floristic survey of the park's flora. He will also discuss the history of botanical exploration in the park, the unique plant gems of the little islands in Biscayne Bay, new discoveries being made, and threats to the native vegetation. (This will prepare us for the upcoming excursion to Elliott Key, with Keith as leader.)

Keith grew up in Dade County, has been a south Florida botanist since about 1991, is past-president of DCFNPS and has been with IRC since 1995. Every once in a while we make him give a talk to get him out of the woods.

Thanks in advance to refreshment donors: Marge Brown, Patty Harris, Karsten Rist (snacks), Manny Pomares(drinks and ice). Your additions to the refreshments and raffle table are also appreciated.

Upcoming meetings. February 25: Miami-Dade County's Pine Rocklands — Joe Maguire, Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Dept. Natural Areas Management; March 25: South Florida's Wetlands — Dr. Martin Roessler, MAR Associates.

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Field trips are for the study of plants and enjoyment of nature by FNPS members (Dade and Keys) and their invited guests. Collecting is not permitted. Please join today so that you can enjoy all the benefits of membership! Call Patty for more information or carpooling (from Dade). If the weather is very bad, call to confirm before leaving home.

Saturday, February 15: Elliott Key field trip. Reservation and fee required for boat only.

A park concession boat will take us across Biscayne Bay to Elliott Key Harbor. Leader: Keith Bradley (our January speaker) and maybe others.

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All chapter members are invited to all chapter activities. To receive personal notification of Keys Group activities or for more information, please contact Lisa Gordon (ledzep@keysconnection.com) or Jim Duquesnel (305-451-1202 or jandj.Duquesnel@mindspring.com). Leave your name, phone/fax number, or email address.

Next meeting: Thursday, January 23, Islamorada Library (MM 81.5 bayside). Michael Pravata, owner of Florida Keys Native Nursery, will speak about "Sustainable Landscape Design using Florida Keys native plants" at 7:30 PM. Plant identification starts at 7 PM (bring plants for identification -- try to include leaves, flower, fruit). Refreshments and a native plant raffle follow the program — please bring your donations.

Michael's talk will describe which Keys natives complement each other and look and grow well together, the proper site locations and which plants grow well with the least problems. Michael has worked in landscaping in South Florida since 1981. He and wife Kim have owned Florida Keys Native Nursery for three years.

Next field trip: Saturday, January 25 — Upper Keys. We will walk in a magnificent 20 acre property that demonstrates many different aspects of our natural Florida Keys environment. The vacant bayfront tract includes some hardwood hammock at over 12' elevation and transitions through buttonwood to mangrove wetlands and the bay. The site demonstrates nature's restorative ability as this tract was mowed as recently as 1975. When left to grow without human help or interference, a lovely hammock resulted. Field trips are for the enjoyment of Florida Native Plant Society members and their invited guests. Collecting is not permitted.

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Native Plant Day at The Deering Estate

Sunday, March 9 Mark your calendars now to volunteer for, attend, or send your neighbors to Native Plant Day on March 9, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. This is our chapter's annual public event where plant lovers can learn about natives for their own gardens and in natural areas, while enjoying a day in the park. This year the event will be at the Deering Estate at Cutler (west of Old Cutler Road at SW 168 Street) and is cosponsored by the Deering Estate. Park admission on that day will be only $3 for adults and $2 for children. Please spread the word! More information will be available soon on our web site and a flier will be enclosed in the February Tillandsia.

Besides programs and displays, there will also be guided walks in and around the buildings, in the hammock, pineland and on the mangrove boardwalk; children's nature activities; plant vendors; and raffles. For the first time, a book seller (Cardinal Enterprises) will participate with an array of nature books and other items.

Because of an event the day before at the Deering Estate, we cannot set up in advance. Also, the number of vehicles able to access the grounds at once is limited, so we will schedule deliveries. WE WILL NEED ALL THE HELP YOU CAN OFFER TO UNLOAD AND SET UP EARLY THAT MORNING!

Please call Carrie Cleland (305-661-9023) or Patty Phares (305-255-6404) to tell us how you will help:

(1) Publicity: suggest a place/ publication/ media contact.

(2) Distribute fliers/posters to a park, meeting, etc.

(3) Help set up on Sunday, 7:00-10:00 a.m.

(4) Help at the event. Staff entrance table, displays, info tent, chapter sales, refreshments; answer question at plant sale; lead nature walks; label raffle plants; direct traffic; introduce speakers; assist in children's activities; breakdown; or "whatever".

(5) Donate plants and other items for the chapter to include in the raffle or sell ... native plants, books, crafts, artwork, gift certificates, gardening items, etc. The raffles will have a limited number of items, and other donations will be sold.

(6) Be a vendor (sell for your own profit as well as to benefit DCFNPS). You must reserve in advance and be present to sell your items. Also, because of the restricted delivery schedule, you should be prepared to carry your wares in.

(7) Recommend a youth group to help as "plant haulers".

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Upcoming programs. Over the new few months, the Dade county meetings (and field trips) will feature a loose series on plant communities and natural areas of South Florida., beginning with the flora of Elliott Key in January (and field trip), pine rocklands in February, and wetlands in March. Other areas will be included in occasional months during the upcoming year. We hope that this series will appeal not only to those of you who like to experience the wilds first-hand, but also to those whose experience with native plants is mostly through planting them in your own garden -- learning about and appreciation of the plants in their natural habitat is the first step in preparing to landscape with natives

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Workday & Picnic, Saturday, February 22

DCFNPS Landscaping Project, Everglades National Park Coe Visitor Center.

9 a.m. - noon: Workday -- light maintenance and prep for new planting. Join the steering committee in a tour and discussion of the successes, problems and future plans for the project.

Noon - 2 p.m.: Picnic provided by ENP and nature walk (good month to see the seasonal wildlife). Please try to RSVP for the picnic by February 14 (even if you aren't certain).

For the workday, bring sun protection, gloves and tools (large tools and hand tools). We'll supply drinks. Gloves, bug spray and trowels are available for those who need them. Please contact Carrie (305-661-9023 ) or Patty (305-255-6404) if you expect to come to the workday or picnic.

Chapter receives award from TREEmendous Miami. On November 19, the Dade Chapter FNPS was among those honored by TREEmendous Miami, an organization dedicated to building community pride by planting, protecting and preserving trees in Miami-Dade County. TREEmendous presents its "TREEmendous People" awards to individuals and organizations that have made a difference in beautifying and increasing tree canopy in their neighborhoods and in other public places. The certificate accepted by DCFNPS President Carrie Cleland on behalf of the chapter reads, in part: "... to DCFNPS for years of providing educational activities to the public about the value of native plants and natural habitats as well as the efforts of its volunteers for the past two years to enhance the entrance of Everglades National Park with appropriate native plantings." Our thanks to TREEmendous Miami for the honor!

Evolution of Everglades Tree Islands — If you missed the handout at the November meeting, you can read the same material at http://sofia.er.usgs.gov/projects/tree_islands.

Roger Hammer's book Everglades Wildflowers is here at last! It will be sold at upcoming chapter meetings and Native Plant Day.

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Miami-Dade Park & Recreation. Dept. Natural Areas Management workdays, 9:00-noon. Wear closed toe shoes and long pants. Call 305-257-0904 for more information. Feb 1 & 8: Kendall Indian Hammocks Park (11345 SW 79 St.); Feb.15: Florida City Pineland (SW 344 St. and 185 Ave.); and others later.

Dade Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Tuesdays at Bill Sadowski Park, 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road on SW 176 Street, 7 PM. Study of plant ID and taxonomy. Call Steve Woodmansee (305-247-6547) or Roger Hammer (305-242-7688). January 21 topic: Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Broward Native Plant Workshop. 3rd Wednesdays at 7:30 on the Davie campus main building of Florida Atlantic University, botany lab, room 317. Address: 2912 College Avenue. Contact Jack Lange, (954) 583-0283 or johnp914@aol.com.

Tropical Audubon Society ( 5530 Sunset Drive, 305-666-5111):

Jan. 19, Feb. 23: Tours of the Botanical Garden at TAS: Learn about plants for your yard -- or just enjoy. Free. 9 a.m. - noon.

Feb. 12: Monthly meeting: Desert Pollination: Bats, Birds and Moths. Professor Ted Fleming, a world authority on bats. 7:30 social time, 8 p.m. program. Free and open to the public.

Feb. 16: Nature walk at Fakahatchee Strand State Reserve. Reservations required! Leader: Rick Cohen.

March 29-30: Native plant sale. 9 am-5 pm.

Greensweep Volunteer Workdays in the Keys. First Saturdays, 9 - noon. Call The Nature Conservancy at 305-745-8402. Feb. 1: Anne's Beach, Islamorada (removing invasive exotics); March 1: Reduce flammable fuel build-up in pine forests around 3 or Big Pine Key's churches.

Miami-Dade County Parks Eco-Adventures: nature walks and get-aways, volunteer workdays, canoeing, birding, van and bike trips, programs. www.co.miami-dade.fl.us/parks or 305-365-3018.

Activities and classes at the Miami Dade Community College Environmental Center Kendall Campus. Call 305-237-2538 or visit www.mdcc.edu/kendall/env/home.htm. Some items of interest include Teacher Planning Day/ Nature Camp (Jan. 24, Mar. 28); Science/Nature Camp for Kids(Mar. 31- Apr. 4); Awakening Your Senses Through Nature (Mar. 8); Easy Gardening with Florida Natives (Apr. 26); Yoga al Fresco (Mondays, 3/17 -4/28 5:30pm-7:30pm); Pine Rockland Restoration (Apr. 26).

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A new insect pest has been sighted in south Florida that could prove to be devastating to both native and non-native trees and shrubs. The lobate lac scale, Paratachardina lobata lobata, a scale insect native to India and Sri Lanka (from the same family as the scale insect used to produce lacquer), was first identified in Davie, Florida in August 1999. Although this local infestation was destroyed, it was found again in 2000 in 2 sites in Broward County and 2 sites in Miami-Dade County. By 2001, the range had expanded to Palm Beach County. As of fall 2002, P. lobata lobata has been reported from Lake Worth to Homestead, and from the eastern coast to Shark Valley and Big Cypress National Preserve along Tamiami Trail. It has also been reported in the Bahamas.

This scale insect is a generalist, feeding on a wide range of woody dicots and on at least one coniferous species (southern red cedar, Juniperus silicicola). To date, more than 120 species of woody plants in 44 families have been found infested with the pest (see Web site below for a more complete listing). As a result of publicity provided by Georgia Tasker's article in The Miami Herald, reports of additional sites and additional susceptible species have escalated dramatically. The scale now appears to be widely distributed through the urban areas of Miami-Dade County, though infestation levels vary. Surveys of natural areas are just beginning.

Most of the host species are ornamental shrubs or trees, or fruit trees, but over 40 species reported to date are native. Some plant families, notably Fabaceae, Myrtaceae, and Moraceae are especially well represented by species that serve as hosts, but this may be due to other reasons such as their abundance in the landscape. Certain species appear to be highly susceptible. Highly susceptible natives include wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco), buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus), strangler fig (Ficus aurea), myrsine (Rapania punctata), red bay (Persea borbonia), and wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa). Highly susceptible non-native ornamentals include black-olive (Bucida buceras), laurel fig (Ficus microcarpa), and weeping fig (F. benjamina). Highly susceptible fruit trees include lychee (Litchi chinensis), mango (Mangifera indica), and star-fruit (Averrhoa carambola). Among native species, wax myrtle, cocoplum, red bay, and wild coffee seem to be particularly susceptible and heavily infested specimens have died. The long term effects of heavy infestations on other species are not yet known, but it is likely that other species will succumb to this pest over time, as well.

How to identify lobate lac scale. The scale infests the woody portions of twigs and small branches, and may be found on branches or main stems up to 2 cm (3/4 inch) in diameter. On highly susceptible hosts, the scale insects are crowded, forming a mass that appears as a dark, lumpy crust. Sooty mold often covers the branches and the insects themselves, and may appear in patches on the leaves. Dense infestations can cause branch dieback, and in severe cases, highly infested shrubs and small trees have died.

For those with some technical background, the mature females of P. lobata lobata are about 1.5-2 mm long, and about the same width. The body has two pairs of prominent lobes. To the practiced eye, this scale insect's x-shaped appearance is readily seen, even without magnification. The integument is extremely hard and brittle, glossy and dark reddish brown, but often appears dull and black due to a coating of sooty-mold. The first instars (crawlers) are elongate-oval, deep red, and about 0.2 mm long. The characteristic lobate pattern develops in the second instar. The second instar female presumably molts to the adult female as in other scale insects. Males of this species have not been observed in Florida.

Dispersal. The mature females of scale insects are wingless, hence they play no role in dispersal of populations to occupy new host plants. Scale insects rely mostly on passive dispersal of the crawler stage by walking and via air currents. Phoresis (being carried by birds and other animals) may be of some importance. Undoubtedly, movement of infested host plants from one locality to the next is a key factor in spreading scale insect pests in urban areas.

What to do. First, educate yourself about what is already known about the scale. The Featured Creatures Web site (UF and FDACS) has more complete information on lobate lac scale (http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/orn/scales/lobate_lac.htm), including a list (incomplete, since reports are still coming in) of which species are known to be susceptible.

Second, keep an eye out for the scale in areas that you frequent, especially natural areas outside the currently reported range for this insect. Contact Gwen Burzycki at DERM (burzyg@miamidade.gov; 305-372-6569) if you observe infestation of previously unreported plant species or in any locations outside the currently reported range. She has agreed to compile local comments and pass them to researchers at USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) and UF who are working on this pest.

Third, contact your legislators (both state and federal) about funding for biocontrol research for this pest. It is already so widespread that it will likely be impossible to control regionally with quarantines and insecticides. Biocontrol has been used successfully in the past to control other introduced scale insects, and a project has been started for this insect, but additional time and funding may be needed to clearly demonstrate that this pesky insect's predator will be safe to introduce to the United States.

Dr. Bob Pemberton, with the USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Lab in Ft. Lauderdale (and, by the way, a member of FNPS whom you might have met on one of our field trips) has recently returned from India, where he found some promising natural enemies among the non-stinging parasitic wasps. Based on these results, a biological control research has already been initiated with funding from the Florida Department of Agriculture's Division of Plant Industry. Dr. Pemberton, Dr. Bill Howard (UF, Davie Campus), and Dr. Ru Nguyen (FDACS-DPI) will be collaborating with Indian scientists and institutions on this research. Candidate insects will be tested in the biological control quarantine laboratory in Gainesville to ensure that they will attack only the lobate lac scale. Researchers are currently optimistic, because parasitic wasps are almost always very specific in what they attack, and there are no lac scales native to Florida or the southeastern United States (there are a few species in the southwestern deserts) that could be unintentionally harmed.

Fourth, inspect your plants. If you have a commercial or backyard nursery, it is particularly important to not accidentally spread this pest through distributing infected plants.

If you have infected plants. If the infestation is light, you can try picking the scale off. Mechanical removal often works well for scale, but you must remain vigilant because the crawlers are quite small and hard to see, so reinfestation is likely. For heavier infestations, you can try cutting off the affected parts and letting the plant resprout. If you do this, be sure to bag the infested branches and discard with household garbage to restrict the opportunity for dispersal. DO NOT mix infested branches with regular yard waste.

If you have an infestation on a plant that is known to be sensitive, you might want to try insecticide treatment. Unfortunately, this insect is so new that appropriate insecticide treatments have not yet been thoroughly worked out. One insecticide mentioned on the Featured Creatures Web site, Imadacloprid (Bayer Corporation), seems to be effective, but is very expensive and carries "Warning" or "Caution" on the label to indicate it is moderately toxic. This pesticide should also not be used near water. Researchers at USDA and UF are currently trying to work out a minimum effective dose. Please see the following Web site for more information: http://ace.orst.edu/info/extoxnet/pips/imidaclo.htm. Please note that this insecticide is used as a root drench, so groundwater contamination is possible because of our high water table. It can also be toxic to plants, birds, and bees if misused. Horticultural oils have not yet been definitely reported to be effective, but these may prove useful in an integrated management program, since they are generally less toxic than regular insecticides and have been shown to be effective against many other types of scale. Some plants and beneficial insects are also sensitive to horticultural oils, so do some background research (e.g. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05569.html or http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/PHC/hortoil.htm) before starting a treatment program.

Please note that any pesticide should be used with caution, and strictly according to label directions. Follow the label directions carefully, both during mixing and application, and do not exceed the maximum dosage listed. The label gives all the information needed for safe and effective use of these complex chemicals. Violation of the label directions is illegal and can result in unintended consequences.

[This article was compiled by Gwen Burzycki and is largely a condensation of information provided on the Featured Creatures Web site, supplemented with information provided by Dr. Bob Pemberton, USDA-ARS, and Carol Farber, DCFNPS member.]

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by Jim Duquesnel

On November 26, a team of five judges (four FNPS members) assembled at the Montessori Island Charter School in Tavernier to judge the school's intramural competition to design and install five "butterfly gardens.". The judges included Bryant Diersing (4-H educator), Kim Gabel (County Environmental Horticultural agent), Pati Mull (FNPS's 2001 award winner for her residential landscape design), Mike Pravata (Florida Keys Native Nursery owner) and Jim Duquesnel (State Park biologist). 

The judges had a very difficult time picking out the best effort, partly because each age group was judged by what their class work had covered. The four classrooms involved had a total of 109 students participating. The first and second graders, led by Ms. Raysa DeLara and Ms. Adele Trizzino, won first place. Second place went to the Kindergarten and first graders under the guidance of Ms. Jen Karley and Ms. Erin Ragan. The fourth and fifth graders with Ms. Susan Adams won third place, and the garden by the second, third and fourth graders working with Ms. Bridget Davidson and Mr. Sean Kinder came in fourth. Each garden had unique features, and the varying locations in the schoolyard presented each group with slightly different challenges.

The four gardens were judged on over a dozen criteria, including the number of butterfly species that appropriate host plants had been provided for, garden design and creative themes, whether water was provided in a form butterflies could use, and how many other pollinators and wildlife species it was expected to attract and support. The children were also grilled by the experts on their knowledge of butterfly lifecycles, sensible Keys gardening techniques, and the many benefits of planting a butterfly garden. The contest was the climax of a school-wide focus on butterfly gardening, introducing and bringing real world application to basic concepts in ecology, biology and botany. 

Although most of the plants had only been in the ground a week or two before the final judging, the panel was impressed to find many plants had already been eaten down to the ground. However, this wasn't the work of the hoped for caterpillars, but the result of not so covert raiding by the school's pet rabbits and green iguanas.

As the judges settled down to evaluate the final entry, the group was wowed by the appearance of a stunning Malachite Butterfly (Siproeta stelenes). This is such an uncommon visitor to the Keys that none of the amateur gardeners or their mentors had thought to include the appropriate host plant (green shrimp plant) for it.

The students received pre-contest guidance and donations of plants from the Florida Keys Native Nursery and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park library at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park also loaned books to the school to help the children, teachers, and parents plan their gardens.

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In the next Tillandsia, the books the gardeners relied upon the most will be reviewed.


General information and memberships: 305-255-6404

Contact in the Keys: Jim Duquesnel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (305-451-1202)

President: Carrie Cleland (305-661-9023)

Vice President: Jerry Russo

DCFNPS e-mail: DadeChFNPS@juno.com

DCFNPS Web page: http://www.fnps.org/chapters/dade/

Webmaster: Greg Ballinger

FNPS Web Page: http://www.fnps.org/

FNPS Eco Action Alert List: send email request to info@fnps.org

FNPS (state) phone: 561-462-0000

Tillandsia editors:

Patty Phares (305-255-6404, pphares@mindspring.com

Co-editor: VACANT — please apply

The Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the understanding and preservation of Florida's native flora and natural areas, and promoting native plants in landscapes.

The chapter includes residents of Miami-Dade County and the Keys. Meetings in Miami-Dade County are on the 4th Tuesday of each month except June, August and December at Fairchild Tropical Garden and are free and open to the public. In June, members and their guests are invited to an evening garden tour on the 4th Tuesday. Meetings in the Keys are held on a varying schedule of dates and locations from Key Largo to Key West. The basic FNPS membership (state and chapter) is $25 per year. Please contact DCFNPS for a membership application.

Please send articles, announcements of local activities and news of interest to the Dade Chapter PO Box or email to the editor (above) by the 15th of each month to be considered for publication the following month. Advertising rates from $10/month.

© 1999-2002 Dade Chapter Florida Native Plant Society, Inc.

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